“The day my son was born, I knew I would do anything for him. Fight for him to be himself. Make sure he was going to grow up loved and accepted no matter what.
At first it was little things. Nails, glitter, flowers, pink and purple.
Then came the clothes.
My son Levi begged me to wear a dress to school for a while. Then, one day, he came home from school crying because he wanted to wear one SO badly.
So, I let him try on some of his sisters’ dresses and told him to pick the one he loved the most. He decided upon a light pink frock from his sister Braylee. I could see the pure joy on his face and how beautiful he felt. We talked to him and let him know there would be people confused because they don’t normally see boys in dresses. ‘If it makes you happy, then you can wear this one tomorrow,’ I told him.
And he sure did.
The next morning, my heart raced as we dropped him off at school. I heard parents snickering when we walked by but Levi didn’t hear (thank God). He was far too joyous to even notice. He skipped around and held my hand, so excited to finally be in a dress. As I left, I couldn’t help but hope and pray he would be okay.
Until I got the phone call.
‘The kids on the bus at school were making fun of him and he asked to change,’ said the principal. My heart absolutely ached for my sweet boy. How could 4-year-olds already be so cruel and mean?
They bullied and teased my son for being who he is and being happy. They made him so sad and uncomfortable that he asked to change into a shirt and shorts. ‘We’re completely fine with him wearing a dress,’ the principal informed me. ‘But if this is going to be a normal thing, we are going to have to get a counselor into his class to explain that other kids wear different things.’ One of his teachers actually teared up and expressed how happy and amazing she thought it was that we were parents who let our son be himself. I was proud that at least the school staff was understanding.
When I got to school to pick him up, I immediately asked him, ‘How was school? Where is your pretty dress?’ His eyes filled up with tears. ‘I had a bad day,’ he said. ‘Everyone laughed at me and told me to take the dress off.’
I held him and gave him the biggest hug ever. I told him he was beautiful and could wear a dress if he wanted to. ‘Daddy and I love you no matter what you wear.’ Levi asked if I would help him change back into his dress. His brothers and sisters were there to support him. Sure enough, his bright, bubbly, happy self came back right away.
It doesn’t matter what you wear.
Who you love.
What you look like.
What your beliefs are.
What your sexuality is.
What job you choose to hold.
None of those things matter.
Anyone who thinks differently or would be ashamed to be seen with my family for these reasons don’t need to be in my life. I will not allow others to bring me or my family down for being us.
I understand many will question this and not agree. It’s fine to have your own beliefs. It is not okay, however, to shame or openly hate on families and friends who believe that children are allowed to be themselves.
In our household we believe that children need a safe place to explore who they are without restrictions. They deserve to learn and grow into open-minded and respectful adults. Allowing them to choose their clothing and what they like doesn’t do any harm to themselves or anyone else.
We are who we are and no one should EVER shame us, or anyone, for being true. We are all so special and loved in so many different ways. I will not be the mother to shame my children. I will ALWAYS fight for them. I will let them be happy and teach them to be proud of who they are.
What many people don’t see or understand is that Levi is atypical. He has many sensory issues, textures and clothing being part of it. So along with his love for all things bright, ‘girly,’ and glittery, he chooses to wear what makes him feel comfortable and safe. Still to this day, and since he could talk, Levi has been nothing but himself. I love nothing more than seeing him and my other kids happy and free.
Hot pink shoes and glitter included.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Jarvis of Abilene, Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Subscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.
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